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What are My Rights if the Police Use Excessive Force?

In today’s society police tactics and behavior are coming under scrutiny more than ever. Law enforcement officers who use excessive force against a suspect are finding their names and actions exposed online and through traditional media outlets: some are facing legal repercussions from their actions. There remains, however, a great deal of misinformation about what legal rights an individual criminal defendant has when police behave badly.

(1) Your Criminal Case is Not Likely to be Dismissed

Having police “rough you up” or arrest you for a crime you did not commit is not likely going to get your case dismissed right away. So long as the police had “probable cause” (a legal standard) to arrest you, criminal proceedings can be initiated against you and you can be required to stand trial. In a similar vein, while having police use excessive force against you means you may have a civil rights claim or other lawsuit against the officer and/or the department, it does not mean that the prosecutor or court must dismiss your case.

(2) Cases Against Police Officers and Departments are Difficult to Win.

This is because police officers enjoy certain legal immunities when they are carrying out their duties. Even careless conduct on the part of the police officer is not enough to win a case against an officer or department. In most cases you must show that the officer went beyond his or her authority in deliberately causing you harm or violating your rights. To win a claim of malicious prosecution, you must not only win your criminal case but you must also prove the officer did not have probable cause to arrest you and initiate criminal proceedings against you.

(3) A Police Officer’s Prior Bad Conduct is Relevant to Your Case

Although a police officer’s excessive force is not necessarily going to win you an automatic acquittal, an officer’s prior bad acts can be used by a skilled defense attorney to cast doubt on the officer’s actions and your charges. For example, an officer who has previously been investigated or disciplined for falsifying reports or exaggerating the facts of a particular arrest (claiming, for example, that a suspect was “resisting arrest” when in fact the suspect was in the process of complying with the officer’s commands) can be asked about these facts and circumstances at your trial. An officer’s previous bad conduct can cause a judge or jury to question the officer’s testimony and conclusions in your own case.

Jeffrey S. Weiner of the law office of Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. is a South Florida criminal defense attorney with many years experience defending citizens charged with committing criminal acts in Florida. His experience and knowledge provide him with the resources to thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances of your case and arrest to ensure all favorable evidence is presented to the court, thereby increasing the chances of an acquittal or dismissal of your case. Contact Jeffrey S. Weiner today by calling (305) 670-9919.

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